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Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT

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Wilderness Permits for JMT
September 27, 2012 08:18AM
I am a complete newbie at this. My friends and I are thinking of hiking the JMT from Tuolumne to Red's Meadow next summer. I know that I can reserve the spots by fax 168 days in advance. I know they go quickly. Once I have the reservation, can I pick up the permit a couple of days before at the Tuolumne Wilderness Center? Do I have to get in that line that starts forming at 5am? Is it easier to get a permit from Inyo National Forest and start at the other end?
avatar Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
September 27, 2012 09:31AM
If you're starting at Tuolumne Meadows you can pick up the permit starting 11 AM (or thereabouts) the day before your hike begins. Its similar for starting on the Reds Meadow side, except instead of FAXing the reservation to Yosemite you go to recreation.gov and reserve from Inyo NF.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
September 27, 2012 11:42AM
Regarding the line at the TM permit office:

I once brought up this subject and the general gist of replies was that technically somebody with a same day reserved permit has priority over others in the morning. I don't see that in writing anywhere and still question if that's true. In any event I think in practice it may depend on who's on duty, the disposition and/or understanding of those in front of you, plus how you present yourself. The most bothersome aspect of the morning line is that you may have people in front of you without a reservations who are going to take an inordinate amount of the permit rangers' time mulling over available options while you stand there stewing with a reservation you made 24 weeks earlier. If those w/ advanced reservations actually do have priority I don't see the rangers going out of their way to screen the waiting line to identify them. I usually plan a day hike the day prior to an overnight hike so I can stop by the permit office mid-afternoon when things have quieted down, but that's not always an option. Also, people are not supposed to camp out on the porch at night to be first in line but there's nobody around to stop them so they still do it anyway.
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
September 27, 2012 01:15PM
How many days in advance can you pick up the permit? I wouldn't pick mine up the day I planned to start hiking, but a day or two before.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
September 27, 2012 01:35PM
One day in advance, starting at 11 AM.
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
September 27, 2012 10:59PM
If you mean you are a complete newbie at backpacking, you seriously need to start with short trips before doing the JMT, and do some thinking about gear and pack weight.

There is nothing more miserable than carrying 20 lbs more than you have to over high elevation passes repeatedly. You'll increase your enjoyment and chance of doing the whole trail without blisters, pain, etc. if you start with a simple overnight or two... or three... or four...

I just finished teaching a backpacking class. I spent time going over gear lists and gear options, food, etc. in class, and took folks for a simple overnight. No one had a heavy pack - all were under 30 lbs. They learned the most by doing the overnight trip, not by me telling them about backpacking. You will learn best by doing.

Jumping on a two week trip without any experience at all sounds like a death march. Hopefully you plan to at least get some dayhiking in - the only real prep for backpacking at elevation is hiking at elevation.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
September 28, 2012 08:14AM
Mom,

Please take to heart AlmostThere's advice regarding "beginner-vs-JMT". Several points:
1. Most beginners would not know how to limit their total carry weight to 30 lbs, including water. It begins with choice of backpack, tent, sleeping bag & pad, cookware, water filter, etc. Every ounce counts.
2. You may own hiking boots that give you no problem elsewhere but give you hot spots or blisters in the High Sierra. It is critical to have properly fitting boots plus a blister prevention plan that works for you.
3. Friends hiking together soon discover their speed is determined by the slowest hiker. It gets worse if that person is experiencing other difficulties.
4. If you have not done any high altitude hiking you have little experience with altitude sickness and how critical it is to stay properly hydrated in the High Sierra.

As AlmostThere said, issues such as these any many more can get ironed out with some day hiking and short overnighter trips first. Sorry to be piling it on but this is kind of important. We speak from experience. We really want you to enjoy your intro to high altitude hiking but trying to take on a long trip the first time out may prove unpleasant.
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
September 28, 2012 08:57AM
Oh, I am aware of all of this. We are only going perhaps three nights. Tuolumne to Reds or Agnew Meadows. For the last several summers I have hiked the High Sierra Camps and do that easily. Now I want to expand the areas of the park I can access. And the two friends I am going with are experienced backpackers. When I said I was 'new' to this, I meant in getting a wilderness permit, which you do not need when staying at the High Sierra Camps.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/28/2012 09:01AM by Mom.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
September 29, 2012 08:06AM
Mom,

O.K., thanks for the clarification. As you can see, some of us on this forum (like yours truly) are quick to toss a safety net towards what we perceive as beginners. Enjoy.
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 12, 2012 02:14PM
Well, word got around and now our group has expanded from 3 to 6 or 7. I see that Lyell Canyon has 24 reservable spots. Is it going to be difficult to get 6 or 7 spots for a Monday start in August?
avatar Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 12, 2012 08:13PM
Quote
Mom
Well, word got around and now our group has expanded from 3 to 6 or 7. I see that Lyell Canyon has 24 reservable spots. Is it going to be difficult to get 6 or 7 spots for a Monday start in August?

Probably not for a Monday.



Old Dude
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 12, 2012 09:25PM
How strict is the park as far as obtaining backcountry permits?

I know they want to limit the amount of people in certain areas for preservation reasons,
But could you get in serious trouble if you didn't get one?

The reason I ask is because in September some friends and I did the Yosemite Creek trail from
White Wolf campground to the top of the falls. By the time we reached the top of the falls
and explored a little bit(also ended up helping to put out a potential forrest fire #rangers came in a chopper to help)
When we were heading back were quite tired. I always come prepared so I had a small tent
And we camped out for the night in a large clearing(I call it a high sierra desert).
Didn't know how strict the rules were or if we could be in trouble for doing so.

I'm very conscientious of the surroundings and absolutley love the park so made sure we left no trace.
Could someone please let me know the details.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 12, 2012 11:30PM
Quote
JamesMac

How strict is the park as far as obtaining backcountry permits?

Very strict.

Quote
JamesMac

I know they want to limit the amount of people in certain areas for preservation reasons,
But could you get in serious trouble if you didn't get one?

Yes.

Quote
JamesMac

The reason I ask is because in September some friends and I did the Yosemite Creek trail from
White Wolf campground to the top of the falls. By the time we reached the top of the falls
and explored a little bit(also ended up helping to put out a potential forrest fire #rangers came in a chopper to help)


What exactly is a potential wildfilre? A campfire that wasn't properly extinguished? Not sure what you mean here.


Quote
JamesMac

When we were heading back were quite tired. I always come prepared so I had a small tent
And we camped out for the night in a large clearing(I call it a high sierra desert).
Didn't know how strict the rules were or if we could be in trouble for doing so.

If a backcountry ranger spotted you camping with your small tent without a wilderness permit you would have been in big trouble. You would have been issued a citation with a fine then probably escorted out of the park. The size of the tent doesn't matter. To a Yosemite ranger, having any tent set up on the ground in a designated wilderness area would be a clear indication that you were planning to illegally camp in Yosemite (without a wilderness permit).


Quote
JamesMac

I'm very conscientious of the surroundings and absolutley love the park so made sure we left no trace.

Doesn't matter. You're not allowed to camp overnight in the wilderness in Yosemite without the proper wilderness permit.

Most day hikers don't bring along any kind of tent. As a precaution, some will carry with them a bivy sack in their daypack in case they're forced to spend the night out in the wilderness for some unforeseen reason. But carrying a tent (even a small one) implies that you might have been planning to camp overnight illegally.

.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 12, 2012 08:45PM
I'll state perhaps the obvious. And you can kick me if you want.

Call the full 168 days ahead of the day you want.... and be prepared to
call the next day... and the next... or limit your adders (i.e. go with 3 instead of 7) smiling smiley

Good Luck
Lyell Canyon is one of the most popular THs



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 13, 2012 04:11AM
Quote
chick-on
I'll state perhaps the obvious. And you can kick me if you want.

Call the full 168 days ahead of the day you want.... and be prepared to
call the next day... and the next... or limit your adders (i.e. go with 3 instead of 7) smiling smiley

Good Luck
Lyell Canyon is one of the most popular THs

Q-rect. Try another trailhead. We wanted Lyell this past summer. Had to "settle" for Rafferty creek up to Vogelsang, then down Ireland to get to Lyell. It's all good in the Sierra.
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 13, 2012 04:47AM
Thanks for the feedback. "Potential fire" was some fools who I'm assuming made a small cooking fire or something and didn't properly extinguish it. The entire ground was smoldering in a 10x10 area up to 12 inches deep in ground. Some guys called us over as we were making our way back toward white wolf asking us if we had extra water. Ended up refilling water bottles and even backpacks from the creek multiple times to keep it contained.
Also it wasn't a popup tent or anything like that. I used a small tarp and some paracord(not trying to justify just letting you know what I had).

As far as the permit goes, I've done that hike a few times all but this last trip we made it back the same day. I had looked in to getting the permit, but I guess I overestimated one of my party who claimed he'd be okay. I'm under the impression there is a small # of permits available per trail head in certain time frames. Something like a dozen. I've seen many people who have been camping "not in designated campgrounds" on numerous occasions claiming to not have a permit. This is why I was asking the conditions and severity of punishment for not obtaining one.
Now that I know this I'll make sure to tack on an extra day to my trips there to make sure I get the permit.

I very much enjoy visiting Yosemite and wouldn't want to get in any kind of trouble with the park.
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 13, 2012 01:28PM
Quote
The Other Tom
Quote
chick-on
I'll state perhaps the obvious. And you can kick me if you want.

Call the full 168 days ahead of the day you want.... and be prepared to
call the next day... and the next... or limit your adders (i.e. go with 3 instead of 7) smiling smiley

Good Luck
Lyell Canyon is one of the most popular THs

Q-rect. Try another trailhead. We wanted Lyell this past summer. Had to "settle" for Rafferty creek up to Vogelsang, then down Ireland to get to Lyell. It's all good in the Sierra.

Would you then have been able to continue over Donahue Pass with the Rafferty Creek permit?
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 13, 2012 02:09PM
Quote
Mom
Quote
The Other Tom
Quote
chick-on
I'll state perhaps the obvious. And you can kick me if you want.

Call the full 168 days ahead of the day you want.... and be prepared to
call the next day... and the next... or limit your adders (i.e. go with 3 instead of 7) smiling smiley

Good Luck
Lyell Canyon is one of the most popular THs

Q-rect. Try another trailhead. We wanted Lyell this past summer. Had to "settle" for Rafferty creek up to Vogelsang, then down Ireland to get to Lyell. It's all good in the Sierra.

Would you then have been able to continue over Donahue Pass with the Rafferty Creek permit?
Yes. We explicitly told the ranger we wanted to go to Donahue. Lyell was full so she suggested going up rafferty and back down Ireland creek. both of those were open
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 13, 2012 10:48AM
Ok, good to hear you aren't going out blind... thanks.

As for group size - I run a large (two, actually) hiking group. We go backpacking a lot. The way it works - I post a trip description and people sign up. Then there is a waiting list. I often have 8 people on the permit and then a waiting list of 20+ people. By the day of the event I have five people going, no waiting list. And then at the last minute we get to the wilderness office and there are now only 3. So no matter how much noise the waiting list makes I tell them wait... wait... wait... wait... now you can go. Inevitable that people do not prioritize hiking and backpacking over things like jobs, sick kids, sick parents, divorce, car trouble, being sick, etc. Or they just change their mind.

I suspect that even if all spots are reserved there'll be some abandoned ones to be snapped up the day you pick up the permit. If you still have all interested parties wanting to go.
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 13, 2012 08:49PM
Agree with Almost there. Group trips always have people flake. I have about half the people who say they will go bail at the last minute even after getting permits 6 months in advance. If you are 4 or less you should be able to get walkups the day before your hike but plan on getting to the permit office around 6am. A larger group will make permits harder to get in advance and as a walkup. The flake factor sometimes results in freed up quota space the day of your hike at 11.

Just send in you permit request and hope you get it but don't cancel your trip if you don't. If you do end up with a large group be ready for an alternate trailhead.

I have slept at the TM permit office for the same permit you need and found it unnecessary as the second person in line didn't show up until 6. It was a lonely night.

Do you have the car shuttle figured out? The Yarts bus is cheap and awesome in case you are not aware of it.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 16, 2012 10:52AM
It is my understanding you are not supposed to sleep at the permit office. I believe there's even a sign to that effect.
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 16, 2012 04:29PM
Quote
tomdisco
It is my understanding you are not supposed to sleep at the permit office. I believe there's even a sign to that effect.
I was there last summer and didn't see a sign to that effect. There was a line forms here sign about 50 feet away from the office, so technically you can't sleep at the office, only near the office
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 16, 2012 11:45PM
I didn't sleep much. I got there at three and sat in a chair for 4 hours on the porch and tried to doze off as much as possible. No sleeping bags or pillows so I wouldn't really cal it sleeping. Kind of like waiting in a line for a crappy black Friday sale item. I wish REI did black Friday stuff.

I never saw a sign either. Get a permit in advance if possible to avoid this discomfort.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 17, 2012 12:18AM
Quote
apeman45
I wish REI did black Friday stuff.

I am very glad they don't.
avatar Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 19, 2012 12:26PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
apeman45

I wish REI did black Friday stuff.

I am very glad they don't.

+1 thumbs up
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 19, 2012 05:06PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
apeman45
I wish REI did black Friday stuff.

I am very glad they don't.
Why?
Re: Wilderness Permits for JMT
November 20, 2012 12:25AM
So they don't have to wait in line early Friday morning and can sleep in instead like normal people. REI is the only place I would line up early on black Friday. Now stores are open on Thanksgiving! I will not be there - unless REI is open.
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